Fraternities and sororities offer many socialization opportunities on college campuses. Greek life organizations can also build teamwork, leadership, and community organizing skills. Additionally, fraternity and sorority membership can lead to professional advantages after graduation, including connections to job opportunities.
However, fraternities and sororities may also lead to problems, including excessive partying, hazing rituals, and sexual assault. Therefore, pledging isn’t for everyone. Students should research whether Greek life is right for them. This guide includes information on fraternity and sorority life, including housing arrangements and common Greek life myths.
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Pros and Cons of Going Greek
Joining a fraternity or sorority offers benefits and drawbacks. Members gain access to exclusive opportunities, but they must also perform membership duties and pay fees. This section outlines several pros and cons of fraternity and sorority life.
Pros of Going Greek
Greek life can provide a sense of community that lasts a lifetime. Fraternity and sorority members may benefit from their connections long after college. They can use their network to obtain job offers and other professional advantages. Greek life also typically includes service and philanthropy components that can lead to personal fulfillment.
Cons of Going Greek
Sorority and fraternity members absorb responsibilities that can make college more difficult. Planning and participating in events can take away from study time. Membership also typically includes fees and other costs, which can create a financial burden.
Fraternity and Sorority Fact vs. Fiction
Movies and TV shows often portray Greek life unrealistically, presenting inhumane hazing rituals and nonstop parties. While social events form a major part of Greek life, members also perform many academic and service activities. This list outlines common myths about fraternities and sororities.
Fact vs. Fiction
Fraternities and sororities are just for partying.
Parties and other social events play a large role in Greek life. However, fraternities and sororities also engage in community service activities, supporting social causes. Some fraternities and sororities may also center their identity on service or academics rather than on social events.
Fact vs. Fiction
Members of Greek societies aren’t as serious about their studies as non-members.
Fraternity and sorority members often lead active social lives, but many Greek organizations emphasize academic achievement. A 2003 study published in the Journal of College Student Development found that fraternity and sorority membership positively correlates with academic engagement and learning gains.
Fact vs. Fiction
Fraternity and sorority members continue to benefit from Greek Life even after graduation.
Fraternities and sororities often lead to close ties that last long after college. Greek life helps members form lifelong friendships that can serve them when job-hunting. Pledging also helps members build useful social skills for the professional world.
Fact vs. Fiction
Sexual assault is a rampant issue in on-campus Greek organizations.
In 2014, The Guardian reported that fraternity members are 300% more likely to commit sexual assault than non-members. Many college campuses and organizations offer initiatiives to address sexual assault on campus, such as Consent is So Frat.
Fact vs. Fiction
Hazing continues to be a major issue in fraternities and sororities.
Types of Fraternities and Sororities, Requirement and Costs
Colleges may host many types of fraternities and sororities. These organizations operate according to different principles and goals. This list highlights various types of Greek life organizations.
Social Fraternities and Sororities
These groups emphasize social connections. Members often engage in community activities, but their focus typically remains social.
These groups emphasize academic achievement, operating more like college honor societies. While socializing plays a role, most members focus on schoolwork and other scholastic achievements.
Professional fraternities emphasize career preparation and achievement. These groups may only offer membership to learners studying certain disciplines, such as engineering, agriculture, or law.
Service Fraternities and Sororities
While most fraternities and sororities engage in community service activities, these groups make community service their primary goal. Organizations such as Alpha Phi Omega and Gamma Sigma Sigma rank among the most popular service fraternities and sororities.
Specific Affiliations or Groups
Cultural Fraternities & Sororities
Cultural fraternities and sororities primarily serve members of a certain cultural identity. Some groups may primarily admit students of certain races or ethnicities, while others may specifically serve LGBTQ+ students.
Program-Specific Fraternities & Sororities
Some fraternities and sororities serve specific academic majors or programs. These groups may offer additional academic support and community for students interested in a particular field.
Fraternity and Sorority Housing
Fraternity and sorority houses are usually large communal spaces where many members live. These houses may also host parties and other community events.
Non-Greek Dormitory and Residence Halls
Fraternity and sorority members may also live in traditional campus housing, like dorms and residence halls. These members can still participate in standard Greek life activities.
Some fraternity and sorority members live off campus in houses and apartments. These living situations may offer a quieter environment with more privacy than fraternity and sorority houses.
Chapter meetings usually occur weekly and last about an hour. Led by senior members, they offer a space to discuss future events, community activities, and any issues within the fraternity or sorority.
Initiation and Pledge Ceremonies
Pledging for a fraternity or sorority often involves activities that bring pledges closer together. Initiation rituals often take place in secret.
Socials and Formals
Social events play a large part in many fraternities and sororities. Common social events include theme parties, semi-formal events, and formal dances.
Most fraternities and sororities engage in community service. Common community service activities include helping people in need, such as the poor or sick.
Fundraising combines Greek life’s emphasis on social events with community service. Some Greek parties may operate specifically to raise money for a charitable cause.
Many fraternities and sororities maintain weekly study hours dedicated to schoolwork.
Many fraternities and sororities charge fees during their recruitment process. These charges usually cover administrative costs and are typically nonrefundable.
Dues and Memberships Fees
Members must pay annual membership dues and fees. At some organizations, these dues total hundreds of dollars annually. Students should budget carefully.
Gifts and Social Event Fees
Fraternity and sorority members may need to pay for other aspects of Greek life, such as outfits for events.
Should I Choose Greek Life?
Jennifer “JJ” Jones is the executive director of student life at Southern Methodist University. She is also the 33rd president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, a cooperative organization consisting of historically Black fraternities and sororities. JJ has also served on the Circle of Sisterhood’s Board of Trustees.
Q. Do you have any advice for students trying to pick which fraternity/sorority to join?
Students need to do their research on all of the organizations and match their values with those of the organization.
Q. What benefits are there to joining a fraternity or sorority?
Being part of something larger than yourself that services others is very rewarding. The networking aspect and the difference the larger Greek community makes in our world are also beneficial.
Q. What can new members do to get the most out of their Greek life experience?
Live out your oath.
Q. Hollywood and some other mainstream media portray Greek life as party-focused and academically unproductive. Do you have any wisdom for individuals concerned about these perceptions?
Seek to counter those negative perceptions with all of the good that the organizations are doing. Look at the great things some of our notable members are doing.
Networking: How a Fraternity or Sorority Can Open Doors
Fraternity and sorority life offers many professional benefits, including a professional network of former members. This list outlines how to take advantage of networking opportunities through your fraternity or sorority.
1. Use Alumni Networks
Most fraternities and sororities maintain extensive local and national alumni networks. Students can use these networks to build their social group and find connections to jobs and other professional opportunities.
2. Join Online Networks
Learners can also use online fraternity and sorority networks. These online communities offer many of the same benefits as in-person networks, including professional opportunities.
3. Attend Chapter and National Events
Fraternity and sorority events keep students connected to the Greek community. By attending local chapter meetings and larger national events, learners can engage with other members and form professional connections.
4. Seek Leadership Experience and Opportunities
Greek life can help students build professional skills. Overseeing social activities and community service initiatives can build valuable leadership experience.
Gamma Sigma Alpha
Known as the National Greek Academic Honor Society, Gamma Sigma Alpha focuses on academic achievement in Greek life. The society's website offers resources for local chapters, such as programming ideas and GPA awards.
Organized by Campus Pride, the Lambda 10 Project cultivates awareness and visibility for LGBTQ+ fraternity and sorority members. It offers educational resources and programs for LGBTQ+ Greek members.
National Multicultural Greek Council
Established in 1988, this organization works to empower Greek organizations for students of color. The council offers resources for fraternities and sororities and hosts a national annual conference.
North American Interfraternity Conference
A major national organization for fraternities, NIC works to strengthen fraternities through campus leadership. The organization hosts networking events, workshops, and conferences dedicated to building leadership skills.
Order of Omega
Dedicated to academic success and leadership in Greek life, the Order of Omega selects its members from the top fraternity and sorority members nationwide. The organization offers scholarships, grants, and networking opportunities.